Any meeting between two of the top clubs in MLS is bound to produce some intensity, even if it comes in the early stages of the preseason.
By TODD ENGLE
Special to The Star
That was the case Saturday, when Sporting Kansas City tied the Portland Timbers 1-1 in Tucson, Ariz.
Sporting KC midfielder Sal Zizzo, formerly of Portland, scored in the 3st minute off of a a free kick from Claudio Bieler.
Bieler drove the ball across the 18-yard box, and Zizzo headed the ball into the upper reaches of the net. It was Bieler’s second assist of the preseason.
“I was standing on the near post, I saw a little lane on the near post and I figured if he underhit there would be a spot wide open. I got a head to it and luckily it went in,” Zizzo said.
Portland’s Schillo Tshuma tied the match with a goal in the 84th minute, but Sporting KC goalkeeper and Blue Valley North grad Andy Gruenebaum kept the match tied with a great save in stoppage time.
Sporting KC defender Aurelien Collin picked up two yellow cards in the first half, which led to his ejection in the 33rd minute.
“My take on it is that it was two very stupid moves on his part,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said. “He put the team in jeopardy by making two plays that he never had to do. Hopefully it’s a good lesson learned in preseason, as opposed to the regular season.”
Sporting KC played with 10 men for the remainder of the match, and Vermes was pleased with the way his club handled the disadvantage.
Sporting KC’s next preseason match is at noon Friday against the Indy Eleven.
Sporting KC’s Graham Zusi and Matt Besler played earlier in the day with the United States national team.
Zusi had a hand in setting up both goals, which were scored by Chris Wondolowski, as the U.S. took a 2-0 victory over South Korea in Carson, Calif.
After the first goal, South Korea had a chance to tie the match off of a corner kick,but a near-post ball was flicked backward by Besler and kept out of the goal by Nick Rimando.